Bootleg: cast biographies

Anthony Hammer as Jason 'Smudger' Moore

anthony hammer

Smudger cannot believe anyone would ban chocolate and finds it inconceivable that the government would bring in the special police to seize all the delectable treats from every shop. When the reality sinks in Smudger doesn't to take the ban lying down—with the help of his friend, Huntley, they make their own chocolate.

Anthony Hammer's face will be very familiar to fans of the Australian soap opera Neighbours. He spent about 18 months in Neighbours as Leo Hancock, a member of a new family living in Ramsey Street. "It was interesting working on Neighbours, a lot different to other shows I've done. It's a fast pace."

During his time in the popular soap opera, the British band Coldplay visited the set of Neighbours to meet the cast. Bus loads of tourists from the UK regularly dropped in to Ramsey Street. "It was quite weird. They'd planned their entire trip to Australia to visit Ramsey Street. They are very devoted."

Anthony has spent the past six years in constant work and admits that at times he has found it difficult to combine this schoolwork and his career as a young actor. During filming of Bootleg he worked with a tutor on weekends catching up with his studies. While Anthony loves acting he plans to attend university to study mechanical or electrical engineering when he finishes school at the end of next year.

"I would like to be an actor. There is a very fine line between being 'up there' and 'unemployed'. If it pans out for me then I want to keep doing it. I hope it does."

Anthony's schedule has been very busy in recent years with guest roles in The Secret Life of Us, The Saddle Club and We Jimmy and a lead role in the 26-part series High Flyers. Anthony has also appeared in numerous television commercials.

On stage Anthony has worked with the prestigious Australian theatre company, the Melbourne Theatre Company and the Victorian State Opera. His credits include A Doll's House, Oliver Twist, Madam Butterfly, Pearl Fishers and Eugenie Onegin. Anthony also played Chip in the Australian stage production of Beauty and the Beast.

Anthony doesn't spend all his time on set or catching up with schoolwork. He is an accomplished skateboarder and spends hours perfecting tricks. He can skateboard down steps and railings—anything with a slope is fair game for Anthony.

He's also a break-dancer and enjoys roller blading. Anthony is also a very keen sportsman playing tennis, swimming, soccer, karate, hockey, golf, cricket, table tennis and athletics.

Unlike his co-star, Steven Geller, Anthony never grew tired of eating chocolate. "There can never be too much chocolate."

Steven Geller as Mike 'Huntley' Hunter

Steven Geller

Huntley is frightened. With special police patrolling the streets the simple pleasure of enjoying a chocolate bar has become life threatening. But his love for chocolate is too strong. There is only one solution—with the help of his friend Smudger, they will make their own chocolate.

Steven Geller studies performing arts and media studies at West Herts College in Watford. Acting has always been his passion and since about the age of eight he's had an agent and been performing on stage and television. His impressive list of credits belies his young age.

His last stage role was in the title role in Cameron MacIntosh's production of Oliver at the Palladium. "Since then I got to the age where there was only a small amount of work available for my age group so I got into television."

Steven's other major theatrical appearances included Richard, Duke of York in Richard III with the New Shakespeare Company and Tiny Tim in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of A Christmas Carol.

On Television Steven has appeared in CBBC's Microsoap as well as Mike & Angelo, Dalziel & Pascoe, and Download Disney.

Steven has completed his GCSE concentrating on the humanities. He achieved 10—two 'A's in English and Drama as well as five 'B's and three 'C's. He began his college education after completing these public exams.

Steven's parents are very supportive of his career. "They are extremely proud of me and they know that they I love what I am doing."

Steven loves singing and has a voice coach—Paul Kessell-Holland. His current passion is the songs from musical theatre. And there is time for pop music. Steven is a DJ at parties on weekends and loves listening to hip hop and R&B.

As far as the future is concerned Steven wants to pursue a career in the arts. "It has always been and always will be what I want to do. I will stick to the acting to start off with. I would like to train at RADA or the Guildhall. Maybe, later on I will go into directing. I love technical theatre."

As soon as he returned from Australia, Steven began preparing his audition pieces for his applications to attend these prestigious drama schools.

Steven enjoyed his time in Australia working on Bootleg, but admits that by the end of the shoot he didn't want to see another piece of chocolate!

Martin Jarvis as Mr Blades

Martin Jarvis

Mr Blades is a mild-mannered bookshop owner. To those who come in to his shop he is a font of knowledge of all things to do with the world of books. To those who know him well, Mr Blades is the leader of the underground movement against the GoodforYou Party and in favour of chocolate for everyone.

Martin Jarvis is one of Britain's most distinguished and versatile actors. "I have always been interested in the business of communicating great writers and fine scripts to audiences. That's what it always is for me."

And for Martin, Bootleg is no different to the myriad of productions he has been involved in over the years.

Bootleg gave him the opportunity to work with Gemma Jones, an old friend from the days they studied at RADA together. They hadn't worked together since appearing in the television mini-series Chelworth in 1989.

It also gave him the opportunity to work with Bootleg's young stars, Steven Geller and Anthony Hammer. "They are totally professional. I am terribly impressed with them both and the way they approach their work."

Apart from having to fight a desire to eat chocolate while reading the scripts for Bootleg, Martin enjoyed working on the series, saying it is a "true parody of what a prohibitive society is like. It is also saying something about everybody's right to be an individual. It is a very good story."

Martin has appeared in numerous CBBC television programmes over the years. He was one of the pioneers of Jackanory and Jackanory Playhouse and his acclaimed performances of Just William have also been seen on the BBC.

Other roles for the BBC have included The Forstye Saga and since then he has worked extensively on both side of the Atlantic.

His credits include Dr Who, Lorna Doone, Micawber, Murder She Wrote, Walker Texas Ranger, Rumpole of the Bailey and Casualty. Martin played Uriah Heep in David Copperfield and the title role in Nicholas Nickleby.

On the big screen, Martin's credits are equally as impressive and include Titanic, Mrs Caldicot's Cabbage War, Emily's Ghost, Kid with the X-Ray Eyes, Buster with Phil Collins and the cult film Taste the Blood of Dracula.

On stage Martin Jarvis enjoyed a personal triumph on Broadway starring as Jeeves in the Alan Ayckbourn/Lloyd Webber musical play By Jeeves, for which he won the Theatre World Award. After a triumphant season in Pittsburgh By Jeeves the video was produced before the play went to Broadway where it achieved enormous success.

Other award-winning theatre appearances include Woman in Mind and Henceforward by Alan Ayckbourn; Other Places by Harold Pinter and Michael Frayn's Exchange. Martin also starred as Jack Worthing opposite Judi Dench in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Martin's voice will be well known to listeners of audio books and animated films. While Martin was in Melbourne working on Bootleg he took time out to produce the talking book of Just William No. 8—another in his popular children's titles. His other titles for family listening include 101 Dalmatians, Billy Bunter and Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr Fox.

"You bring in all things you have ever learned in television, in theatre, in film to this creating of a story that you are telling. You are everything. You are the camera, you are every character and you are telling the story. It is going back to the very basics of what we do."

Martin and his wife, actress and director Rosalind Ayres, have an independent production company, which regularly produces radio plays for BBC. Their latest productions are Vieux Carre by Tennessee Williams and On the Waterfront. Many of the world's major stars appear in these radio plays including Gregory Peck.

Martin Jarvis was honoured with an OBE for his services to drama in 2000. "It is a great endorsement of our business. It is a long way from a hundred years ago when we were the strolling players—rogues and vagabonds."

Martin shares many of the stories—humorous and serious—from his long career in his autobiography, Acting Strangely. The story of his Broadway success, Broadway, Jeeves? will be published next year.

Gemma Jones as Mrs Bubby

Gemma Jones

Mrs Bubby's News is every child's dream—a true Aladdin's cave of chocolates, sweets and toffees. If it tastes delicious, Mrs Bubby sells it. Mrs Bubby's is a sweet lover's heaven until the GoodforYou Party takes over. With all her chocolates and sweets seized by the troopers Mrs Bubby is forced underground to fight for the chocolate everyone loves.

Gemma Jones says she enjoyed working on Bootleg "enormously" describing Mrs Bubby as "a slightly daffy character" and very different from her usual role.

Working with Martin Jarvis was like a reunion. Martin and Gemma attended RADA together and have been friends for many years. And Gemma is fulsome in the praise for her younger co-stars—Steven Geller and Anthony Hammer.

"I didn't think of Anthony and Steven as younger or less experienced than any other actor. The one thing I did notice was their energy—on and off camera. They had so much fun between takes I thought they'd be exhausted, but they weren't."

Having Steven close at hand was good for Gemma who says she is a technophobe and needed Steven's technical expertise to help her with the Internet so she was in constant contact with home.

It wasn't Gemma's first visit to Australia. She went 'down under' 30 years ago when she toured the world with the Royal Shakespeare Company with Peter Brook's production of A Midsummer Night's Dream.

"That was an extraordinary experience on every level. It was working with a theatre genius—Peter Brook. I was quite young and I made really close friends and we travelled to some extraordinary places. We were away for nine months. Tours like that don't happen any more."

Some of Gemma's favourite roles have been in provincial theatres where the roles were challenging and the audiences small.

But television and film have showcased Gemma's talents to a much wider audience. Many will remember Gemma for her acclaimed performance in the prestigious BBC drama series, The Duchess of Duke Street.

More recently a new legion of fans saw her in Bridget Jones' Diary, playing Bridget's mother.

And later this year an entirely new generation of film goers will see Gemma when she appears on screen in Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets as Hogwart's matron, Madame Pomfrey.

Gemma Jones loves the outdoors. When time permits she works as a volunteer gardener on Hampstead Heath. It is hard, physical but important work keeping this precious space clear of noxious weeds.

"It is nothing very horticultural. I just love being out in all weather. I lead a curious double life, really. I should be a farmer's wife! I have this persona as an actress, which has connotations of glamour!"

To relax Gemma delights in spending hours hill walking and trekking. The Jones family home, a lead miner's cottage, is in the Welsh Mountains where Gemma enjoys walking for hours.

When time permits Gemma heads to Tibet and Nepal where she treks through the mountains. She once suffered altitude sickness at 14,000 feet and was distressed at the thought of not being able to climb again. But Gemma didn't let sickness deter her from pursuing this passion. She has been back to 14,000 feet with no ill effects.

"I think I might have been a mountain goat in a previous life or maybe it's just because my forebears come from the mountains in Wales. I just love being up in the mountains and I always want to go higher," says Gemma.

"I absolutely understand people putting themselves in danger by climbing mountains. Some people think they are mad, but I understand them. I find it very liberating."

When it comes time for a holiday, Gemma is always drawn to the mountains she knows and loves.

Gemma Jones trained at RADA where she won the prestigious Bancroft Gold Medal and later in her career she received the Clarence Derwent award for her role in Jeanne Anhouille's The Cavern.

Her credits are as extensive as they are varied. Her West End work includes Brecht's Baal with Peter O'Toole; Alfie with John Neville; E.M. Forster's Howard's End; Alan Bennet's Getting On; Harold Pinter's The Homecoming; Arthur Miller's Ride Down Mount Morgan and Ibsen's The Master Builder with Alan Bates.

Gemma has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Royal National Theatre with credits including The Merry Wives of Windsor, A Winter's Tale, The Marriage of Figaro and Battle Royal.

Her other theatrical credits include After Aida, Ashes, A Street Car Named Desire, Much Ado About Nothing, Mystery of the Rose Bouquet and Dance of Death.

On the small screen Gemma's credit include The Seagull, Kenilworth, The Cherry Orchard, P.D. James' Devices and Desires and the BAFTA award winning Longitude.

Gemma's film work includes The Devils, The Winslow Boy, The Theory of Flight, Sense and Sensibility, Wilde and Cotton Mary. She has recently completed work on Shanghai Nights and a Spanish film No News from God with Penelope Cruz.

Ewan Burnett (Producer)

Australian producer Ewan Burnett has a long-established relationship with the BBC and was delighted when asked to produce the mini-series Bootleg.

The BBC provided the scripts and UK actors to play Mrs Bubby, Mr Blades and Huntley. The rest of the roles were cast using some of Australia's finest actors.

Ewan Burnett has produced some of Australia's most successful drama series for young viewers.

His production company, Burberry Productions was established in 1993.

Ian Gilmour (Director)

For director Ian Gilmour, Bootleg was a complicated shoot with 95 individual locations and 95 speaking roles.

"This was all part of the fun," admits Ian.

"Even though it was a bit of agony getting it all. One of the great strengths is the boys' journey. It is definitely a journey. They are always in new places meeting new people and learning things from them."

He is fulsome in his praise for the young stars of Bootleg, Steven Geller and Anthony Hammer.

He says they were keen and energetic throughout the shoot and always managed to have that extra burst of energy for bike riding and hackey sack with the crew during lunch breaks.

Ian Gilmour is well known in Australia as a director and an actor.

He says it wasn't an easy transition to make—from in front of the camera to behind it—but he has made it a successful one.